Just Not Fair

With a big trial breathing down my neck, there’s a ton of stuff due tomorrow. And I have a class to teach and a life to lead. There’s too much work to do, too fast. “It’s not fair,” I said to my adversary today. “You have all these other lawyers and people helping you, and I have one paralegal.” He laughed. “It’s not fair,” he agreed sympathetically. That won’t stop him from pressing his boot down on my neck, of course. But he understands. That’s the kind of business we’re in.

…Look, I’m going to talk someone out of going to law school, eventually.

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.


  1. …Look, I’m going to talk someone out of going to law school, eventually.

    Loser. I’ve already talked several people out of medical school.

    • “…Look, I’m going to talk someone out of going to law school, eventually.

      Loser. I’ve already talked several people out of medical school.”

      I wouldn’t think either of you would have much luck.

      I never studied either law or medicine, but I have in on good authority from prime time television shows that most of your job involves having witty talk with best-friend co-workers, inappropriate sexual dalliances with improbably good looking clients, patients, co-workers or competing attorneys, living in well decorated lofts and the occasional 2 minute consult with a client once a week. It seems pretty awesome from where I sit.

    • …Look, I’m going to talk someone out of going to law school, eventually.

      I’ve tried to talk any number of students out of going to law school, and as best I can tell my success rate is zero.

  2. I think I’ve done a poor job of explaining here just how wearying the stress of long-cause trial preparation has been. In fact, for someone who “likes to argue,” (the seemingly most common reason self-reported for attraction to law school) it might even seem glamorous.

    …It’s not.

  3. And this is one of the reasons I am trying very hard not to do solo practice.

    I don’t want to be at a big law firm. A small to medium law firm is a much better fit for me. But at least you have a somewhat decent support staff. Not like Quinn Emmanuel but reasonable enough.

    • Don’t make my mistake, NewDealer. If you take on a big case, be sure you have adequate help, either from co-counsel or at least from competent staff (who, because of their competence, demand and should be paid premium wages). Learn early how to delegate and supervise the work that they do. Legal teamwork is not a skill that is taught in law school and not something that I think a lot of lawyers are particularly good at, at least not without having substantial mentorship and experience in how that kind of teamwork functions.

      If you don’t, you’ll be like me over the last few weeks when crunch time hits — stressed out, tired all the time, and more than a bit unpleasant to be around. This is one sort of thing that makes you burn out on the practice and consider career alternatives.

      • I frequently want to switch jobs with people for a week. One day is no nearly long enough. I think a week will give me a good idea of what the job is really like. Ugh, I wish productivity didn’t get in the way of me playing dress up (and napping) all day.

  4. Yeah, whatever — clearly you’re just trying to make it sound worse than it is so that you can shrink the pool and keep your salary high. TV doesn’t lie.

    • You can join the guild, kenB. There’s things you have to do to get in, but thousands of people manage to attain membership every year.

      Some of them even make good money doing it.

      • I’ve heard enough similar stories from lawyer friends and acquaintances to dissuade me from attempting a career switch — I haven’t completely ruled out the possibility that a common and essential component of the legal training process is to learn how to convince the laity that the practice of law is painful and unglamorous, but some of those friends seem really sincere (and I’ve seen them act on stage, and they really don’t seem that good at it).

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